Global climate change is projected to alter the distribution, prevalence, and harm caused by infectious diseases. This alarming prediction suggests a pending crisis for nature as well as society. An array of health professionals to climate change scientists to natural historians have been examining changes to the patterns of infection in relation to extreme variation in environmental conditions. Dr. King will synthesize primary infectious disease literature to determine the impact of environmental change on the spread, prevalence, virulence, and potential for evolution of infectious diseases globally. Specifically, she will examine the relationship between the deviation in environmental parameters from average and the magnitude of host harm (virulence) or changes in transmissibility of pathogens to new hosts and geographic areas. Dr. King’s visit is hosted by Drs. Michelle Tseng (Zoology) and Richard Hamelin (Forest and Conservation Sciences) at UBC.
Prof. King is Professor of Evolutionary Ecology at Oxford University. She explores the evolutionary ecology of host-parasite interactions across the tree of life. These interactions are central to different research questions related to: the evolution of sex, diversity, virulence, local adaptation, sociality, and fast evolutionary change. Using microbial systems, Prof. King has demonstrated that host-associated microbes can rapidly evolve to defend hosts against parasites, and host coevolution with multiple parasites speeds up evolution and diversification. She is also involved in projects tackling the impacts of global environmental change and poor nutrition on parasite transmission and virulence.